If you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack. And if you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have.Greg McKeown (on the Tim Ferriss Podcast)
A sunset. A butterfly. A clean bill of health. An unexpected check in the mail. A great conversation with an old friend.
The more we can see blessings around us, the happier and more content with life we will be.
If you want a quick fix for turning around a bad day, there’s nothing faster than practicing gratitude. There’s a reason everyone recommends it: it works.
I started a daily gratitude practice over 7 years ago as an experiment. I was skeptical of the claims and wanted to see if it really worked. It does.
In fact, it works even if you’re not sincere about it. The practice will change you even if you’re going through the motions.
And… it’s also possible to get complacent with a gratitude practice, by drawing from the same well: moments in nature, how the body supports us, the good things that happen in our lives.
It’s easy to see the blessings when life is going well, when we are doing what we enjoy, and when what we are receiving looks like what we expect blessings to look like.
The question to ask ourselves is: how broad is our list?
How can we open to majesty, goodness, wisdom, and beauty from a wider range of sources?
Where do we find it easy to see goodness and where do we find it challenging?
- Maybe we find it easy to open to the beauty in nature. But can we see the beauty in a dirty subway station, or in the homeless man curled up in the corner?
- Maybe we can find the blessing in a clean bill of health. But what about in an unexpected diagnosis?
- Perhaps we have humility when we learn from established masters, but what about when we learn from fellow students?
- We may find it easy to see the light in someone we believe to be innocent, but what about someone we believe to be a perpetrator of evil?
- It’s often easy to see the light in people who agree with us. Can we also see the light in the people who disagree with us?
- Perhaps most important: we may honor the wisdom of people we consider to be our teachers, but how well do we appreciate and honor our own inner wisdom?
We can find reasons for awe, wonder, and gratitude anywhere and anytime — even the places and situations that seem devoid of such potential — if only we are willing to look for them.
You see what you seek.
Expanding the scope of our appreciation is the way to master the art of gratitude.